439 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo / 716-842-0600
Hours: Brunch – Saturday 11:30am-3:00pm; Dinner – Tuesday – Saturday 5:00pm-10:00pm
Cuisine: New American, Vegan, Vegetarian | Price: $
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | BRUNCH MENU
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – “some good food is good food”. Merge is one of those rare hybrid restaurants that can successfully combine really good-for-you food with really good tasting food to turn out a menu where every item is somehow better than the last. The Merge brunch menu is certainly no exception, offering everything from Vegan Pancakes ($9) to Peanut Butter Banana Stuffed French Toast ($10) which yes, our health-conscious friends, is also vegan. Drooling yet?
If you know anything about us here at Step Out Buffalo it’s that we like to eat. A lot. And one of our favorite times to eat is undoubtedly brunch. Merge’s philosophy includes preparing fresh and healthy foods, getting customers to enjoy vegetables again, and being innovative…and let’s just say if my parents had served me the items on Merge’s brunch menu during the Great Vegetable Boycott of ages 6-17 history would have been rewritten. My advice to everyone reading this is run, don’t walk to Merge’s Saturday brunch (driving works too).
Merge is all about offering healthy foods and accommodating those with traditional tastes as well as vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free dieters, and raw food dieters. The fine folks here craft all of their dishes, pastas, bread, and desserts from scratch using the best ingredients they can source, which are often from local farms like Oles, Arden Farm, Thunder Mountain, Hidden Valley Farm, First Light Farm, and even their own farm in Lakeview. In order to continually source fresh, local ingredients Merge’s menu changes pretty often, but when we visited the winter brunch menu included brunch starters such as Seitan Wings ($7) and a Mediterranean Platter ($10), main courses like Breakfast Hash ($9) and Polenta ($12), and wraps and sides. They also have a sizeable selection of drinks including Bottomless Mimosas ($10), Hot Toddy ($8), fresh juices, herbal teas, green tea, black teas, coffee drinks, and digestive shots. Virtually every single item on their menu can be made vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free, and as an added bonus 99% of the items on the menu cost less than $10. Honestly, your body and your wallet deserve it.
In my quest to try every last brunch in the Queen City and its surrounding areas I took my parents out to Merge one sunny Saturday afternoon – oh BTW Merge does Saturday brunch only. Once we were given our menus I watched them read over the selection and wondered if we were about to enter the Great Vegetable Boycott of ages 55 and 57. To be fair, for those who have never been to Merge before a whole menu filled with the words “vegan” and “gluten free” might not sound too appealing thanks to the negative connotation that those foods = gross. I reassured my parents that I had eaten vegan food before *and survived* and we proceeded to place our orders for our organic, (sorta) vegan feast.
The first thing we ordered was a Bloody Mary ($8) made with a chef’s house mix and blue cheese olives. The Bloody itself was pretty tasty, but the game changer was the olives. These babies were lovingly stuffed and were honestly the best stuffed olives I’ve ever had. They were so good in fact that I ordered more on the side. YOEASOO (You Only Eat Amazing Stuffed Olives Once)…unless of course you order them twice.
Next up was our appetizer, Smothered Sweet Potato Fries ($9) which had spiced lentils, spinach, and cheddar cheese (daiya cheese is also an option) with a side of honey. We ate every. Last. Bite. This was the part of the meal where my parents regained their faith in their daughter’s decision making skills. My stepmom even commented how she couldn’t believe how well the lentils complimented the rest of the dish. Is this how parents feel when they get their child to eat –and enjoy- broccoli??
For the grand finale we had a Breakfast Burrito ($9) with black beans, vitamin F aka Frank’s Hot Sauce, eggs (tofu is also offered as an alternative), cheddar cheese (again daiya cheese is also an option), peppers and onions, and pico de gallo and a side of homefries, Breakfast Pizza ($9) with scrambled eggs (tofu is also an option), tomato, pesto, and cheddar, and Potato Pancakes ($8) served with a fried egg, turkey bacon (you could also get tempeh), caramelized onions, and sour cream. Woof. Everyone was pleasantly delighted with their dishes, and the portions were large enough that I ended up taking more than half of the potato pancakes home which made for a glorious breakfast the next day. After we finished eating we admired the ambiance of Merge and talked about their excellent dinner service and live jazz music during the week…and my parents seemed like they wanted to come back (!).
Great food, great company, and we successfully avoided another Great Vegetable Boycott – it was a banner day.